US Opinion and Commentary

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Out of Afghanistan? Not yet

Posted October 14th, 2015 at 10:03 am (UTC-4)
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Leaving a significant troop presence in Afghanistan wasn’t part of the legacy Obama envisioned when he vowed to end two wars. But legacy has to take a back seat to facts on the ground. Given the unraveling in Iraq and the recent gains by the Taliban, the U.S. can’t leave Afghanistan yet.

Obama Rallies Audience Ahead of Democratic Presidential Debate

Posted October 13th, 2015 at 9:06 pm (UTC-4)
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“No matter who is on the ballot next November, that’s the choice we’re going to face. And that’s why I’m still fired up and still ready to go.” President Barack Obama

Don’t Believe the Hype: The Republican Party Is Alive and Well

Posted October 13th, 2015 at 1:50 pm (UTC-4)
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The House GOP developed a record of unremitting hostility to the Obama administration before the 2014 election, and was re-elected in larger numbers on that record. Republicans have gained 69 seats since Barack Obama became president.

Key US Allies Israel and Turkey Face Tough Challenges

Posted October 13th, 2015 at 9:55 am (UTC-4)
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By Barbara Slavin As the Middle East continues a downward spiral, two important U.S. allies that had seemed relatively stable – Israel and Turkey — are both confronting significant new violence.   In Israel, a spasm of Arab attacks — and Israeli retaliation — is prompting fears of a third intifada. The government of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu […]

Syria: Russian Quagmire? American Quandary

Posted October 6th, 2015 at 4:33 pm (UTC-4)
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Three-dimensional military and diplomatic chess is being played out in the Middle East. Russian warplanes have forayed into Turkish, and by alliance, NATO airspace while flying sorties to support the beleaguered Syrian government. Turkey’s prime minister warns Russian jets could be shot down if they trespass again. Battle-tested Russian “volunteers” may soon put boots on the ground alongside Syrian forces, according to a top Russian official. Is Washington ceding influence in the Middle East to Moscow? Or, is Russia repeating its Afghan mistake? It will likely take years to get to checkmate.

President Obama Needs to Fight for His New Trade Deal

Posted October 6th, 2015 at 8:40 am (UTC-4)
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…Monday’s agreement is just the end of the beginning for TPP: Obama still has to get Congress to pass it, and that’s no done deal.

One More Shooting Massacre in America

Posted October 2nd, 2015 at 4:06 pm (UTC-4)
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Columbine. Newtown. Blacksburg. Aurora. Now Roseburg joins the infamous list of American towns where mass shootings have occurred. At least 40 times in the past 30 years, gunfire has interrupted the mundane goings-on at a workplace, a church, a shopping mall, a restaurant, a school. 375 people have been killed. Just a few hours after a 26 year-old man opened fire Thursday on the campus of a community college in Oregon, President Barack Obama appeared before the cameras. “But as I said just a few months ago… our thoughts and prayers are not enough. It’s not enough.” The president’s voice was thick with frustration and anger as he spoke about the spate of mass shootings that he said “… has somehow become routine.” At the heart of his ire is not only grief for the 10 people gunned down while attending class, but the issue of gun control. Access to firearms in America is a deeply emotional and divisive issue. Obama believes that laws limiting a citizen’s ability to get hold of a gun is key to stopping such tragic shootings. But to do that, who would be willing to commit political suicide in the name of gun control?

What Checkhov Tells Us About Putin’s Syria Airstrikes

Posted October 1st, 2015 at 4:25 pm (UTC-4)
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“I find it interesting that the language Moscow is using to justify and describe its military intervention in Syria borrows so much from the lexicon that the US used to talk about its invasion of Iraq,” says Alexander Kliment, a director specializing in Russia at the Eurasia Group.

Afghanistan: Is Taliban Siege on Kunduz Déjà Vu All Over Again?

Posted October 1st, 2015 at 1:54 pm (UTC-4)
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It is not only the Middle East where one can see the results of President Barack Obama’s strong belief in keeping the U.S. military out of far-flung conflicts. A year after the bulk of U.S. troops withdrew from Afghanistan, the Taliban made a bold — if short-lived — move on the northern city of Kunduz. With a strong U.S. military assist, Afghan forces were able to retake control after four days. But the episode was ominous. Is Afghanistan ready to defend itself against a committed Taliban movement with only 9,800 U.S. soldiers on hand? Obama is making good on his campaign promise to end both U.S. wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. But by doing so, Americans are now forced to examine what is left behind.

Heading for Failure on Syria at the UN

Posted September 30th, 2015 at 11:07 am (UTC-4)
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When you don’t agree on the root of the problem, you can’t agree on a solution.

US Confronts Islamic State Militants Online

Posted September 29th, 2015 at 4:47 pm (UTC-4)
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Efforts to defeat the Islamic State involve more than military might, President Barack Obama said at Tuesday’s summit on countering violent extremism: “…This means defeating their ideology. Ideologies are not defeated with guns, they’re defeated by better ideas.” The stunning success of IS online recruitment via social media has resulted in a growing US operation to dilute the messaging that has inspired tens of thousands to drop everything and join IS in Syria. Anti-terrorism messaging is not a new tool, but it is a difficult one to get right. US officials are betting on telling the stories of IS defectors and reaching young minds on the Internet and elsewhere.

Obama Tries to Define his Legacy Abroad — While the Rest of the World Tests It

Posted September 29th, 2015 at 11:54 am (UTC-4)
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…The rest of the world is testing where the president’s boundaries lie and what they might expect of the United States in the wake of his eight years of military disengagement and multi-nation approach to squelching war and violence abroad.

Why I Can’t Get Worked Up about Russia in the Middle East

Posted September 29th, 2015 at 10:24 am (UTC-4)
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Given Putin’s track record in eastern Ukraine, I’m supremely skeptical of Russia’s ability to impose order in Syria, no matter how much help Iran provides.

Putin and Obama Have Profound Differences on Syria

Posted September 29th, 2015 at 9:01 am (UTC-4)
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Both Mr. Obama and Mr. Putin agree that the Islamic State, which is trying to establish a caliphate in Syria and Iraq and has by some accounts grown to tens of thousands of fighters, is a major threat. Beyond that, their two visions are radically at odds, and each used his speech to blame the […]

Syria Choas Draws Putin into Obama’s Orbit

Posted September 28th, 2015 at 4:06 pm (UTC-4)
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Just a day before President Barack Obama stepped up to the ornate lectern to deliver his speech at the United Nations General Assembly, his Russian counterpart stole the spotlight — and left the Obama administration scrambling. Over the weekend, Vladimir Putin struck a deal with Iran, Iraq and Syria to share military intelligence and security information about the Islamic State. It is yet another bold move on the part of Putin to make himself relevant to the unending misery of Syria, which has recently spilled onto the front porch of Europe in the form of tens of thousands of refugees. The two leaders, whose relations remain frosty, are set to meet on the sidelines of UNGA to discuss cooperation in Syria. The big sticking point: what to do with Bashir al-Assad.